However, the Cougars kept the Aztecs out of the end zone and their defense delivered when they needed it most.

BYU punter Justin Sorensen also figured prominently in the outcome. He pinned the Aztecs inside their 3-yard line with four second-half punts.

"Our punting game really ended up making the difference," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

KEYS: Van Noy's strip and fumble recovery in the end zone changed the tone of the game and gave the Cougars their first lead, which they never relinquished. It also started the Aztecs' fourth-quarter meltdown, with four of their five turnovers occurring in the final quarter.

COUGARS COMMENTS: "Really gratifying to play the way we did. We prided ourselves on stopping the run and I think we did a good job of that. We love playing physical football, and so do they, and we knew it was going to be a good challenge. I think we won that challenge." -- BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree.

AZTECS QUOTES: "I don't know who got the most valuable player, but I'll tell you who I thought was the most valuable player: their punter. Field position made it tough on the offense. We hung in there for a long time until we turned the ball over, and that kinda broke the gate open. It was more of a field position, turnover game." -- San Diego State coach Rocky Long.